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Spanish Linguistics: 2. Background Info

Background or Reference Resources

Find primary sources and reference material about Spanish Linguistics.

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Using Wikipedia for Research and other Reference Sources

As you gather background information about your topic, your research question may change and that’s okay. Background information should inform you of what’s already known about your topic so that you can ask questions that truly require research to answer. Sometimes background information can be called “reference information.” In fact, there’s a whole section of Norlin Library that has reference materials.


Wikipedia sphere logo Wikipedia name text

One place you can start is Wikipedia, but be sure to check other sources including library subscription encyclopedias (see links in the "Reference Databases" box). You can use Wikipedia to:

  1. Do some initial searching and learn about related topics
  2. Find keywords that you can use in database searches
  3. Find links to references to useful, and hopefully, credible sources

Be careful:

  1. Do not cite to Wikipedia. Since anyone can edit this online resource, it can be difficult to cite an author or evaluate that author for credibility
  2. Do not believe everything you read on Wikipedia. Try verifying the information through another credible source, like a library reference database

Background Information in Books

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Books often contain general overviews of a topic. Search OneSearch or Chinook to find books on your topic. 

Find a book that is related to your topic, then use it's Subject Headings to search for similar books. Reference books often have Subject Headings that include terms like Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Characters, Biographies, Bibliographies, etc.


Latin American literature -- Dictionaries
Portuguese language -- Glossaries, vocabularies, etc  
Authors, Latin American -- Biography -- Dictionaries  
Theater -- Latin America -- Dictionaries  
Literary criticism -- European -- Spanish & Portuguese.  

Pause to Reflect

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Consider the scope of your research question at this point. Have you done enough background research to explore your topic further? What dates, figures, themes, or historical events do you still need to know about? 

Before going onto the next step, consider how much research it will take to answer your question. If it's a lot, you might want to narrow your focus. If, however, your question is very specific, you may have to think bigger.